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Monthly Archives: March 2013

Keeping an Eye on Easter

Is the Easter Bunny making a stop at your house this year? It might look like he’s bringing baskets of goodies but if you look closer, you may spot some potentially harmful pet hazards hidden inside.


Easter Grass
Yellow, green, and pink strands of basket filler can be an irresistible invitation to a cat. If they eat the grass, their digestive system cannot break it down, resulting in painful trauma to their intestines. Make sure to dispose promptly of any kind of artificial basket filler, as those tiny strands can also be a serious choking hazard.

Wrapped in shiny foil, those Easter bunnies and chocolate eggs we all love are just as enticing to our pets. Most adults know that ingesting chocolate can be dangerous to our pets. Children, however, may not be aware of those risks and can unwittingly cause harm by passing a tasty treat to their furry friend. Take a moment to remind children about keeping all sweets away from pets, as even sugar and artificial sweeteners can cause fatal reactions. Be extra vigilant about picking up candy wrappers as well!

Floral Arrangements
From the classic Easter lily to the beautiful Amaryllis, many of the traditional flowers used to commemorate Easter pose a deadly threat—especially for felines. Lilies are especially poisonous and have side effects ranging from vomiting and loss of appetite to kidney failure and death. If you are a cat owner, don’t take a chance with these flowers—keep both cut flowers and live plants completely out of the reach of your curious kitty or go the artificial route.

If you suspect your pet has been poisoned or has eaten something harmful, contact your veterinarian right away. The sooner you seek treatment, the better your pet’s chances are for a healthy outcome.

Happy Adopt Rescued Guinea Pigs Month!

images-15March is National Adopt Rescued Guinea Pigs Month. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) dedicated March to raising awareness about guinea pigs in rescue shelters. According to, over 900 guinea pigs are awaiting adoption in Arizona alone. Would a guinea pig be a good pet addition to your home?

Personable Pets
Adorable, squeaky, and highly social, guinea pigs make great pets for a variety of people, including older children who know how about gentle handling and caretaking. If properly raised and handled, guinea pigs will rarely bite, although it is critical that you let them get used to you before picking them up. Once they are comfortable taking treats from your hand, you can begin petting and holding them carefully. Guinea pigs are best kept in pairs or small groups, however, like all rodents, they will multiply quickly if you keep males and females together.

Guinea pigs have an average life span of three to five years with some living as long as ten years, so potential pet owners should be prepared to make a long-term care commitment before bringing one home. The costs of bedding, food, and annual veterinary care can average over $500 each year—another detail that should be budgeted for prior to adoption.

A Space of their Own
Guinea Pigs require at least four square feet of cage each and need a cage with a solid bottom—not one made of wire or glass. For bedding, they need hay or hardwood shavings (not cedar or pine chips—the oil those woods emit can be dangerous to your guinea pig). They love to hide and play so their environment should include tubes to tunnel through, rocks to climb, and sleeping boxes or flowerpots in which to hide.

As with all pets, fresh, clean water is essential to their survival and must be available at all times. Guinea pig pellets, along with fresh fruits and vegetables, grass hay, and chew sticks or untreated wood (to keep their teeth from growing too long) provide a well-balanced diet.

To the Rescue
March is a great time to learn more about adopting a rescued guinea pig. With so many lovable little ones awaiting a home, perhaps you are the owner they have been searching for.

Leave it to the Pros

Whether its overnight or for an extended vacation, finding the right sitter to take care of your pet can be a daunting task. On the heels of Professional Pet Sitters week, we would like to look at the advantages of using a professional and find out how to locate an expert to meet your pet sitting needs.
When your pet is allowed to remain in his regular environment, he will spend his days surrounded by the same sounds, smells, and routines that he is used to. Having the comforts of home, from the same place to sleep to the same yard to play in can make an enormous difference to your pet and make your absence less traumatic. When you use a professional pet sitter, they will be spending one-on-one time with your pet—as opposed to a group care setting where a caretaker’s attention is divided between multiple pets. In addition, your home will be a less likely target for break-ins with a trusted caretaker coming and going, keeping a watchful eye on your pet’s environment.

Using a professional sitter ensures that your pet will receive a high level of care. From special tasks like grooming and administering medication to everyday details like walking and feeding, a professional can handle it all. They know how to deal with the reluctant eater, the destructive protestor, and the anxious barker and can redirect those behaviors in a positive direction. In addition, sitters are often trained to handle medical emergencies and natural disasters, providing first aid, CPR, or seeking emergency veterinary care as necessary.

Several major pet sitting organizations can help you locate a sitter in your area, including the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, Pet Sitters International, and Arizona Professional Pet Sitters & Associates. These organizations provide their members with a full spectrum of resources, including education and certification courses. Sitters belonging to professional organizations are often insured and bonded as well as subject to criminal background checks, giving you additional assurance about leaving your home and pet in good hands. When you engage a professional certified pet sitter, you can be confident that they are trained in caring for a range of animals and are able to provide you and your pet with the best possible experience.


Friends for Life

image-about-1This past week, in addition to sponsoring their renowned Best in Show competition, the Crufts dog show hosted a very special competition. Sponsored by the Kennel Club, Friends for Life honors the extraordinary lives of dogs who have had a dramatic impact on the world. Kennel Club representative Caroline Kisko shared, “Friends for Life celebrates those dogs which quietly go about changing people’s lives in their own unique and special way.”

Past finalists have included such remarkable dogs as Buster, a bomb-sniffing cocker spaniel who helped save countless lives during his five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, sniffing out explosives that resulted in the arrests of suicide bombers. Another hero, Obi, is a Metropolitan police dog who gallantly served alongside his handler through the 2011 riots in his area, incurring serious injury when a brick struck his skull. Some dogs are recognized for their role in locating survivors after devastating events, like the Haiti earthquake. Many contenders are dogs who provide companionship and who help their owners manage disabilities, including diabetic assistant dogs who alert owners when their blood sugar is low. “There is rarely a dry eye in the house during the competition,” stated Caroline Kisko of the Kennel Club.

This year was no exception, with the Friends for Life award going to a three-legged dog, Haatchi and his owner, seven-year-old Owen Howkins. Haatchi was a victim of a railway accident that resulted in the loss of one leg. Owen’s father discovered Haatchi in a shelter and brought him home for his wheelchair-bound son. According to Crufts, “Haatchi has turned Owen’s life around since and the pair truly are an inspiration to all.”

Selecting one winner among so many champions is surely no easy task. However, as any dog owner knows, there is a hero within every one of them, seen in the countless acts of service, affection, and camaraderie they perform every day. To celebrate the heroic role dogs play in our lives and learn more about the Crufts Friends for Life competition, please visit the Crufts website.

Best in Show

image-about-1This week, over 25,000 dogs (and their owners) are on their way to Crufts in Birmingham, English for what the Guinness Book of World Records calls the largest show of its kind. Organized by the U.K.’s official Kennel Club, Crufts entices participants from around the world to join in on four full days of canine-focused festivities. Named for its founder Charles Cruft, the general manager of Spratt’s (a leading dog biscuit manufacturer) who organized the first Crufts dog show in 1891 and ran 45 more shows until his death in 1938. Through his work at Spratt’s, Cruft became a strong proponent for feeding a high-quality diet to dogs, especially purebreds, and became an avid supporter of canine societies as a result. Cruft’s legacy of promoting healthy breeding and nutritional habits for dogs is seen in the judging standards practiced today.

Similar to Westminster, its U.S. counterpart, the pinnacle of Crufts is undoubtedly the championship dog show and the coveted Best in Show award. Taking place on the last day of Crufts, this momentous event features the Best of Breed and Best of Group winners from each of the seven divisions: toy, gundog, working, utility, hound, pastoral, and terrier. The judge carefully ranks each dog on their movement, temperament, character, coat, health, overall condition, and how well they conform to the Kennel Club Breed Standard. Amidst much fanfare and anticipation, one dog is crowned as the ultimate winner among them all—the Best in Show. A beautiful Lhasa Apso named Elizabeth was last year’s champion, chosen from among a Borzoi, Irish Water Spaniel, Newfoundland, Norwich Terrier, Pomeranian, and Old English Sheepdog, illustrating the diversity of breeds showcased in this event. Past winners have ranged from a Hungarian Vivsla and Sealyham terrier to a Whippet and an Australian Shepherd.

Despite the similarities between Crufts and Westminster, there are several differences between these world famous dog shows. Westminster is known for its elegance and decorum while Crufts is decidedly more laid back and informal. Westminster, called the Superbowl of Dog Shows, turns all its attention on its Best of Show competition while Crufts has several competitions that conclude on its final night. Since these competitions are based on the standards of different kennel clubs, breed standards, terminology, and categories can differ. For instance, Gundogs are called Sporting dogs at Westminster and certain dogs like the toy poodle and the American Eskimo fall into completely different categories within the two shows. Lastly, there are certain dogs that can compete in Crufts that are not allowed to compete in Westminster (and vice versa) with one of the major distinctions being the practice of cropping dog’s ears. In the U.S., the American Kennel Club’s position is that ear cropping and tail docking are “acceptable practices integral to defining and preserving breed character and/or enhancing good health.” In Great Britain, however, these practices are considered illegal and dogs with those characteristics are not allowed to compete.

Crufts’ mission is to “celebrate every aspect of the role that dogs play in our lives” and this emphasis shines through in every detail of this unforgettable event. From hundreds of trade show stands, prestigious competitions for Best of Breed, Best of Group and Best in Show awards, as well as demonstrations of superb agility, obedience, flyball, and heelwork, Crufts attendees will find that there truly is something for everyone in this extraordinary tribute to man’s best friend.

Photo Credit: Copyright onEdition 2012. Photo of Margaret Anderson from Coventry with her Lhasa Apso named Elizabeth, 2012 Best in Show.